This article was published in 2009, in Newsletter 85.
Cycling Demonstration Town progress
In July, three of us attended a meeting of the southern Cycling Demonstration Towns (CDTs). Cambridge is one of these towns, as many members will be aware, and a few meetings of groups of the towns are held each year to help share information. We were offered half an hour to set out our views on the schemes being worked on and issues relating to partnership working.
It was interesting to hear of some of the difficulties that many other places have been grappling with. It is clear that in some areas the local campaign groups have not been getting on so well with the relevant council running the programme. While Cambridgeshire is not perfect, the fact is that there are a good number of schemes, such as the roadspace reallocation being proposed for Hills Road Bridge (see Newsletter 83), which clearly demonstrate the correct direction that should be taken and allow us to give our strong support.
It occurred to me that many of the problems in the other areas may be down to the fact that they have not yet reached a point where cycling is part of the normal culture. They still have to get past all the tired debates such as the silly notion that cyclists are freeloaders or all just law-breakers. They may not always have the luxury of putting forward schemes which propose real roadspace allocation, because those debates end up preceding them. As a result, one can understand the reluctance of campaign groups in those areas to complain about new shared-use provision rather than genuine priority on the roads.
I would like to think that one of Cambridge Cycling Campaign’s successes over the years has been its important contribution to changing mindsets within the County (and City) Council, that enables them to try bolder schemes. Of course, we would like them to go further still, and would like the bad things still happening to be stopped.
The southern CDT meeting was also an excellent opportunity to see the variety of approaches being taken on issues like publicity and marketing: for example, the work that Aylesbury has been doing. Overall, the day was a very positive experience. Arguably the most controversial topic was a question from one delegate on why Cycling England are paying for data collection for their proposed online Journey Planner when an established one in Cambridge (CycleStreets UK, by ourselves) already exists!
Philip Darnton, who is the Chair of Cycling England, has sent a note of thanks for our involvement in the meeting in July. We look forward to continuing our good relationship with Cycling England, and the excellent work they are doing.
What have the Transport Commissioners concluded about congestion charging?
The Cambridgeshire Transport Commission, a body set up to examine the County Council’s proposals for congestion charging plus up-front investment of £500m, has now concluded its extensive series of public meetings. Having sat through many of them, it is clear that there is a wide variety of views on congestion charging, rather than the simplistic firm opposition of the sort which the local newspapers would like to suggest exists.
The Commission’s report was published just as this newsletter went to press and you can find a brief summary of some of the report’s findings, particularly in regards to cycling, on the following page.